HARRISBURG, Pa. — Many parents of school-age children remain concerned about coronavirus and its impacts in the coming school year, with colder weather coming, the delta variant of the virus now widespread and all children under 12 still unvaccinated.
In an effort to quell that anxiety, Harrisburg School District added several components to its annual Community Family Fun Fair.
The fair offers onsite registration for the 2021-22 school year, as well as explanation of the options available for virtual and in-person learning.
“We want to be here to get anyone that's not registered but also talk about the options,” said Jackie Castleman, the district’s director of academics.
HGBSD will offer traditional in-person classes, all virtual learning through Harrisburg Virtual Learning Academy and a hybrid program through Cougar Academy.
Many parents said their primary concern for the upcoming school year was coronavirus safety.
“I have to say COVID because we all got our shots but he didn't get a shot. As a matter of fact, his mother had COVID,” said Kenny Jackson of Harrisburg, whose grandson attends the school district.
“My biggest concern this year because I'm a mom of three and a half, about to be four, is keeping it safe, keeping all the precautions, making sure they don't bring home obviously COVID or anything that makes them sick or affects their school or education,” said Aquazah Welton of Harrisburg.
Others said they felt protected by being vaccinated and had other priorities.
“My biggest concern is bullying,” said Harrisburg resident Angela Waters, adding her daughter had been bullied before the pandemic.
Parents reported a mix of comfort levels in sending their children back to in-person classes.
“They're not going back to the building,” Jackson said of his grandson’s class.
“I think [my daughter] would be better off in school learning because she's a hands-on learner,” Waters said.
Vaccines play a large role in many parents’ decisions, especially now that children 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. Accordingly, a mobile clinic is set up Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday along with the fair. The clinic is run by Hamilton Health Center and will return in three weeks to administer second doses.
“I haven't had a kid yet that was like, 'Yay, I can't wait!' The parents are more excited because I think they're just eager to get the kids back in school,” said Kimberly Craig, Hamilton Health Center community program manager.
Faith into Action Ministries is also partnering with the school district to offer games, food, prizes and a free grocery giveaway.
The fair runs 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 20 through Friday, July 23. The location of the fair is Camp Curtain Academy on Tuesday, Downey School on Wednesday, Melrose School on Thursday and Foose School on Friday.
Schedule for vaccines at the fair:
- Tuesday, July 20 @ Camp Curtin Academy2900 N. 6th Street, Harrisburg, PA 171101 // 2 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 21 @ Downey School1313 Monroe Street, Harrisburg, PA 171031 // 2 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.
- Thursday, July 22 @ Melrose School2041 Berryhill Street, Harrisburg, PA 171041 // 2 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.